I’ve been blogging on here since the beginning of February of this year – that would make today just over 3 1/2 months. As a new blogger, I’ve learned a lot. But in the blogging world, the learning never ends, so I’ve really only dipped my toe in the water.
If you read my blog posts (thank you!) and are thinking about starting your own blog I thought it might be helpful to share my honest experience running this blog in the first three months.
Related: Start Your Own Blog on WordPress
1. BLOGGING WITH THE INTENT OF IT BEING A BUSINESS ISN’T FREE
When I launched my blog in February, before thinking about it professionally, I expected blogging to be free.
It can be, but most professional bloggers agree that you need to invest in your blog if you want to monetize it.
There are many ways to invest in your blog if you can afford to, including growing your knowledge by taking e-courses or reading e-books from other successful bloggers sharing their tricks, subscribing to applications that make tasks easier such as Tailwind, LeadPages or CoSchedule, purchases a domain, paid hosting and themes.
Related: Blogger Resources
Here is how I invested in my blog in the first three months:
When I first launched my blog I purchased a theme from The Sunday Studio on Etsy instead of going with a free Blogger theme. I didn’t want my blog to look the same as all the other people using Google’s Blogger free hosting. Despite this, once I had my blog set up and I was writing for about a month, I had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t happy with the colors. The original theme had a lot of grey in it and I wanted my blog to be bright and positive. So I caved in and purchased another theme from the same theme designer and I am so much happier with the look and layout.
Domain: $17 (with Google)
One of the best things you can do to make your blog more professional is to purchase your own domain. This blog was originally titled after my name, and without paying for my own domain it was www.sarahfournier.blogspot.com – yuck. For $17 annually I get control of the entire URL address as well as an email address under my blog’s name.
Tailwind: $0 (Free Trial + Free Month for a Referral)
I cannot emphasize enough how helpful Tailwind is for me. I started using it two months ago and I can’t see myself not investing in its service. Through the free trial and a free month due to a referral, I haven’t paid anything at this point however my next bill will be $14.99.
RELATED: Tailwind Helped Me Work More Efficiently (Get a Free Month!)
Awin is a global affiliate network I am partnered with so that I can gain a small commission with Etsy. It cost $5 to join but you get that money back with your first check. Awin gives you the opportunity to partner with 13,000 brands in their network, including Etsy!
2. BLOGGING ISN’T A GET RICH QUICK ENDEAVOR
I knew this going in, though I expected to make more than I have at this point! Even if I am a new blogger.
Here is a breakdown of my revenue:
Affiliate Sales: $2.50
Sponsored Posts: $200 (Etsy Gift Card)
What I have learned is that to successfully monetize your blog there are many different directions you can go. One thing successful bloggers have in common is combining multiple revenue streams. This can include affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, selling your own e-course or e-book, offering services like virtual assistance or social media manager and/or selling your own products.
As a new blogger, I’ve been focusing mostly on affiliate marketing with one sponsored post.
3. TRAFFIC WILL GROW SLOWLY AND FLUCTUATE
New bloggers are told that traffic will grow over time, to just keep plugging away, promote on social media, practice good SEO, wait until you’re ranked by Google and it will start happening.
I have found this to be true but I also find it very slow growing and it fluctuates which drives me crazy! Nothing is more frustrating than getting a good day with 500+ views and having that slowly decline a week later. This is especially true if you collaborate or have a blog post that suddenly becomes popular on Pinterest. You will experience a period of increased viewers while it is fresh but the excitement eventually dies down and things go back to the way they were.
As a new blogger, your traffic will grow if you’re consistently writing, promoting on social media and collaborating. That has been my experience. The first month I launched Caffeine and Conquer I had 308 pageviews, the second month 2,475, and third month 2,706.
4. YOU CAN’T BLOG WITHOUT SOCIAL MEDIA PROMOTION
The chances of people knowing about your blog posts without promoting on social media are very slim (you might get 1-2 visitors).
Social media is amazing at driving people to your blog. My biggest traffic sources have been through sharing on my Facebook page and personal Facebook account (thank you, friends and family!). The second source that brings in the most traffic for me is Pinterest.
Related: I Increased my Pinterest Viewers From 173 to 435k!
By sharing my posts on social media during the first three months after the launch of this blog I now bring in about 60 page views a day.
5. COLLABORATING WILL GET YOUR BLOG NOTICED FASTER
I love the idea of collaborating with other bloggers, advocates or knowledgeable people who can provide a new perspective on the content of this blog. I have learned that collaborating is a great way to gain extra visitors since the person you are working with will usually promote the post among their network as well.
6. BLOGGER BURNOUT IS A REAL THING
By the third month, I experienced what bloggers like to call blogging burnout.
Like most new projects, it always starts with excitement and motivation. But that doesn’t last forever. After the newness wears off you have to find something else to fuel your drive to keep going.
Related: How to Stay Self-Motivated as a Freelancer
Plugging out post after post after post can get tedious. I found that blocking time so I can dedicate time to other tasks helps keep things exciting. For me, it is reading about new strategies and ways I can better this blog moving forward. There is just so much information published online that I get excited and my energy renewed when I run into new stuff.
7. YOU WANT TO LEARN FROM THE BEST WHILE REMAINING ORIGINAL
As a new blogger, this can be tough. Successful bloggers share what works for them (usually in a paid e-course) so that you can replicate what they did with the goal of getting the same results. It’s also easy to browse blogs and mimic the ones you like.
While the idea of “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it” might work for some tasks, you want to try and make your blog different than the rest in your niche. I know I tend to browse posts on Bloglovin’ and ideas pop into my head (I have a notetaking app on my phone that is now a giant list of these ideas) that are inspired by other peoples posts.
The best way to be as original as you can, even if your post is inspired by another blogger’s content, is to add your own voice or story. The best part about lifestyle blogs is the content is influenced by our lifestyle – so add your personal experience to a post and make it yours.